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14.4. Effective Mobile Web Design
There is no secret to creating effective mobile content. In fact, the advice
we've been giving throughout this topic applies to mobile devices just like
it does for their larger desktop cousins: know your audience, know their
needs, and know their browsing environment. With that said, the mobile
browsing experience is different enough from the desktop that we'd be
remiss if we did not offer some specific hints to make your web content
look and act great.
With the popularity of mobile web access mushrooming, there is an
abundance of mobile web design advice, good and bad. In the following
sections, we'll offer up our favorite bits of guidance, based upon personal
experience and many visits to many bad mobile sites.
14.4.1. Understand Your User
People turn to a mobile browser for different reasons than when they ac-
cess the Web from the desktop or laptop. Most users are not seeking an
extended perusal of some deep, thought-provoking dissertation, nor are
they looking to apply for their next home mortgage. Instead, they most
often need small bits of data delivered quickly: news headlines, weather
information, flight information, sports scores, and the like. Browsers have
become the interface to many other networked devices, too, so a mobile
browser can have commercial and industrial applications. They won't be
looking to download large pictures or a feature-length movie. They may
want to receive driving directions, to obtain a price check, to buy tick-
ets to a movie in a real theater, to adjust the operating parameters of a
smart machine, to....
Keep this in mind when designing your content. What are you making
available to your users? Why would they want to view it in a mobile
browser? Is your content so useful that users will want to see it on the
run, in their hand, while they do other things? Don't try to shoehorn your
site into a mobile format just to say you did it. Select and deliver con-
tent that matters to people when they are in a mobile setting. In almost
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